OTTAWA — It was a hard lesson to learn, but head coach Guy Boucher hopes it will be a lasting one for the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators lost the opening game of its Eastern Conference quarter-final series to the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Wednesday as a result of two bad third period shifts after dominating much of the game.
"Going into the third they just stuck to what they were doing and we did not," Boucher said Thursday. "We didn't change our game plan whatsoever, we didn't want something different at all, but I think we didn't manage it well mentally. We looked scared to lose instead of hungry to win."
The Senators will look to even the series Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire Centre.
The breakdown in the third was especially disappointing after Ottawa had outshot the Bruins 12-0 in the second and held all the momentum with a 1-0 lead. Instead of putting the game away, the Senators struggled in their own end in the third and the Bruins were able to capitalize.
"I think really we just didn't play well enough to our strengths," said defenceman Dion Phaneuf. "We received the game more than we'd like to. Whether that's sitting back or being too casual it's just we didn't do a good enough job for 60 minutes. They continued to push and found a way, and we've got to get back on track and we will.”
Boucher hopes the Senators learn and grow from the third-period collapse.
"We have to learn from our third period and that’s what playoffs are about. They're all about move forward, what can you learn and get better at, and that's the experience we need to gain game after game. Whether it's today or another day we would have needed to learn that at some point or another so if it's going to be the first game well at least now we know for the next games."
Players know they let an opportunity slip away, but Phaneuf emphasized the importance of not getting frustrated or distracted by it.
"I think it's very important to come back to the rink every day with a fresh attitude and a new opportunity for the next game. Obviously we're not happy of dropping Game 1, but that’s in the past.
"We're not getting it back and you've got to move forward and you've got to work on what you've got to work on to give yourself a chance of winning on Saturday."
Both teams took the day off and will return to the ice Friday.
Boucher said there could be changes to his lineup, but most likely won't make a decision until Saturday.
The biggest question remains whether or not Marc Methot will be back in the lineup.
The Senators defenceman took the warm-up Wednesday night, but was replaced by Fredrik Claesson. Boucher felt the extra two days rest would benefit Methot, who is dealing with an injury to his left pinky finger.
"I'm hoping to get him for Game 2," Boucher said. "We can get him for Game 2 if we want to, but is it the right thing? It's going to be a debate until the game I think."
Boucher says ultimately the decision will come down to Methot's ability to shoot.
The Senators know they'll need to score more than one goal to win in the playoffs. Bobby Ryan was the only player to beat Tuukka Rask.
Ideally the Senators would like to see Mark Stone break out of a career-high 16-game goal-less drought. Boucher attributes some of Stone's struggles to a lower-body injury the 24-year-old suffered March 9 that forced him to miss seven games.
"It's tough, but we're in a new season now and it gets harder and harder to score at this time of year," said Stone. "As a whole we need to put more pressure on their D, on their goalie and make it harder on him to see pucks and make him work a little harder than he had to do (Wednesday)."
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press